AUBURN — The Twin City Thunder bolted out of the gate Friday night and claimed a 3-1 victory over the South Shore Kings in a USPHL National Collegiate Development Conference contest at Norway Savings Bank Arena.

Twin City scored three times in the opening 10 minutes of the game and held on for its first win of the coronavirus-delayed season.

“We started off in the first period coming out pretty hard and got out up 3-0,” Thunder head coach Dan Hodge said. “I thought we kind of dipped in the second, we didn’t come out with our best and they took it to us in the first 10 minutes there. We picked up again at the end of the second, and the third period we were even.”

The Thunder’s season was twice delayed by the coronavirus. First, they had to quarantine for two weeks after a few players tested positive. Then, last Saturday, they called off their home opener in an effort to make sure they were following the state’s COVID-19 guidelines.

Twin City finally opened its season Sunday, falling 2-0 on the road to the Boston Advantage.

Hodge, who also is the Thunder’s co-owner, spoke to the Norway Savings Bank Arena staff and the referees, and all parties decided Twin City could host Friday’s game safely. Twin City and South Shore will play again Saturday in Auburn.

Connor Leslie was outstanding in goal for Twin City on Friday, making 23 saves to help the early lead hold up.

Leslie, who made the Thunder after being one of 40 goalies at the team’s main camp this summer,  said he wasn’t over-hyped about making his first career junior hockey start.

“I did feel calm, but I felt pretty relaxed,” Leslie said. “I was working on my rebound control, and I talked to my goalie coaches about my scrambleness, maybe it was behind the net. It’s all stuff you can work on in practice.”

The Thunder’s scoring outburst started when Alex Ray found Gabe Potyk in the slot, and Potyk beat Kings goaltender Gavin Fitzpatrick for an early 1-0 lead.

Alex Rivet, who was acquired from the Utica Jr. Comets earlier this week for an undisclosed draft pick, set up fellow Lewiston native Dom Chasse for a goal that stretched the Thunder’s lead to 2-0 a little past the three-minute mark into the first period. Noah Furman had the secondary assist on the goal.

After starting the summer with the Johnstown Tomahawks of the North American Hockey League and playing with Utica for one week after being released by Johnstown, Rivet decided he wanted to finish his junior hockey career at home.

“I just wanted to come back home and play in front of my hometown again, that was the most important thing,” Rivet said. “With COVID and all these regulations, it just felt better to be with my family and play.”

Rivet won two state titles at Lewiston High School and Chasse was a member of Saint Dominic Academy’s 2019 state championship team. Friday was the first time the two played together.

“I never thought I would be playing with Rivet, he’s a great asset on our line,” Chasse said. “He’s just a big body you want on your team and want on your line. It’s great to play with him.”

With South Shore’s Jack Cady and Ryan Leonard in the penalty box, the Thunder capitalized on the 5-on-3 power play when defenseman Zack Conner found Nick Rashkovsky for a goal that made it 3-0 about seven minutes into the first period.

The Kings gained some momentum early in the second period, but Leslie shut it down by stopping 11 shots in the period.

The Thunder had a pair of power plays in the middle frame but didn’t convert on either, and their lead remained at 3-0 heading into into the final period.

Shane Zarcone ripped a shot past Leslie to put the Kings on the board early in the third. Anthony Quinlivan assisted on the goal.

“Our work ethic wasn’t there,” Kings head coach Drew Omicioli said. “We looked fatigued, and unfortunately when you play a good team that plays structure, trying to score three on the road in the final 20 minutes is a difficult task. We need to start faster and have a completely different performance tomorrow.”

Kings goalies Gavin Fitzpatrick, who was tendered by the Maine Nordiques this summer, and Evan Szary combined to make 39 saves in the losing effort.

Related Headlines


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.